There are a few things that really get my heart racing: pretty much anything with Chanel double Cs on, Tiffany blue, a Manolo Blahnik heel and the Azzedine Alaia outlet. That's it. I fly coach and drive a 12 year old Prius. I don't ask for much.
But, last year, around this time, thanks to my 16 year old son, I became a petrol head. To that fashionable lust list, please now add the wheel behind a performance car, or failing that, a co-drive with a professional.
It started at the Goodwood Festival of Speed which I am getting misty eyed about now, only because a good friend's wedding is keeping me away this year. Otherwise I'd be there. And I'd be kitting up in a fireproof suit, balaclava and helmet for a rally stage with Skoda.
I only signed up last year because I thought, at the last minute, I could give up my seat for my son while I waved benignly from the sidelines with a glass of something chilled. But it turned out he was under the legal age limit for a death defying rally drive averaging close to 100 miles an hour up a dirt track of right angle turns through a forest with onlookers standing perilously close. So I had to go.
It was the driver that sealed the deal: 6 feet of sandy blonde 22-year-old Norseman, hot foot from a win in France. Pinot Grigio or a Brad Pitt lookielikie in a boiler suit? Ladies, I got in the car.
From the flying start (I swear all four wheels were off the ground from the off) my face was in a rictus of joy or terror (still haven't figured out which) as the scenery and spectators went by in a blur. I consider myself a nippy driver (and have 6 points on my licence to bear witness to the shameful claim) but I couldn't see Andreas Mikkelsen's hands move. Hands, feet, pedals and gear levers moved at cartoon speeds. It was over in a flash. I have never forgotten it. I now accept any and all invitations involving racetracks and performance cars in the hope that I can repeat the experience. Grazia Girls, my name is Paula Reed and I am an addict. I love the smell of fuel and the stomach lurch on the chicane... I want to do the Top Gear circuit in the reasonably priced car!
I'll be at a wedding in Scotland this weekend. But a chunk of my heart is in that Skoda on the Forest Rally Stage at Goodwood.